Mugabe in the cross-hairs
Bush is out to make Robert Mugabe into the Saddam Hussein of Africa,
a life-threatening condition. When top State Department officials declare
that "the political status quo is unacceptable," that Zimbabwe's
government is "illegitimate," they are announcing U.S. intentions
to remove Mugabe by force, if necessary.
there is plenty of old-style, reflexive racism in the current White
House, the Bush regime is also a near-pure expression of corporate-globalism.
It would be parochial on our part to believe that white farmers are
uppermost in the minds of Bush's strategic thinkers.
Zimbabwe is relatively rich, but the threat to eliminate Mugabe is based
on much more than some crude urge to reserve the country's bountiful
agricultural resources for the further enrichment of the tiny white
minority. Global corporations, which control the international markets
that determine the fate of nations, can get along just fine without
a few thousand white agribusinessmen. Fundamental regional corporate
interests compel the Bush-men to place the cross-hairs on Mugabe's skull.
Africa is the ultimate prize, as it has always been. Bush and the British
are preparing to show South Africa who is boss in the region, even if
it takes a bullet in Mugabe's brain to the make the point.
as we are to see the world in Black and white, many African Americans
and progressives slipped easily into the assumption that the struggle
for control of the continent's industrial giant, was settled. The smooth
transition from Nelson Mandela to Thabo Mbeki, under the African National
Congress, served to obscure from international - or, at least, American
- public discourse the ongoing debate over South Africa's future. The
burning questions remain open: what is the meaning of Black rule in
a powerful industrial state? What role will multi-national corporations
play? What are South Africa's economic, political and military
obligations to its sister nations on the continent?
we may not have been paying close attention to the internal struggles
within the ANC and South Africa at large, the multi-nationals fully
understand their stake in the matter. They know that "socialism"
is still a popular word among the people; that Mbeki represents the
conservative wing of the ANC, while the ranks are led by the Left; and
that the poor majority believe that the revolution is not over.
and European corporations follow South African political affairs microscopically,
as do the West's intelligence agencies and strategic thinkers. The fluidity
of South African power relationships scares them. Business interests
across the continent can be affected by the political coloration of
the ANC, which remains more of a coalition than a political party, yet
sits atop Black Africa's strongest state and economy. South Africa's
military is formidable, albeit racially unreliable.
the South African government and the corporations exert great efforts
to present a face of stability and harmony to the world. Yet both must
consider the fact that two generations of thoroughly politicized, urban
youth grew to maturity and middle age in a struggle to control skyscrapers
and all the power these structures represent. Most South Africans are
not peasants, or people who strive to be small landowners. They are
city folk, and remember the blood shed by so many thousands who believed
that the urban centers, mines, and factories belonged to them.
1955 Freedom Charter is still venerated, including the words, "The
mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall
be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole... the land
re-divided amongst those who work it."
television and newspapers ignore these political realities when they
visit formerly whites-only golf courses to interview Black executives
in stylish gear. Yet the future disposition of the spoils of liberation
is always at the center of South African political discussion.
in arms, not long ago
and his military began as freedom fighters in need of help from independent
Black "frontline states" in the struggle to throw off white
rule. In turn, Zimbabwe became a frontline state for South Africa's
liberation forces. Feelings of solidarity linger between the ANC and
Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front, and among
many average South Africans. Yet South Africa's Black leadership - grouped
one way or the other around the ANC - is determinedly democratic, and
has been critical of Mugabe's treatment of trade unions and non-ZANU-PF
civil society in general.
white and Black rule, the same corporations have dominated the heights
of both countries' economies. These historical and contemporary commonalities
the "fraudulent" elections, in March, South Africa attempted
to convince Mugabe to share some measure of power with the opposition.
He refused, and South Africa continued to pronounce Mugabe's government
"legitimate." U.S. and British diplomats could barely contain
their anger. They seemed to have expected greater compliance from Mbeki.
Now it appears that Bush is prepared to force the issue, first with
massive infusions of money to Mugabe's opposition (principally to the
Right, especially those already on the take from the white landowners
and CIA fronts), to be followed by proxy or direct military action.
At least, that is the bald threat.
hit on Mugabe, performed with the vulgar arrogance that is George Bush's
trademark, will register as a direct assault on the national personality
and character of "free" South Africa, the former regional
superpower. It will resonate as a South African domestic crisis, with
results that no one can predict.
Bush crowd, wielding blunt weapons, appears to believe that Mbeki will
become more malleable once the real superpower sets up shop in
the neighborhood - and they may be right. They may also set in motion
events that undermine the current, precarious balance between the old
South Africa, and the one the people fought for.
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